March 3 // Elena Vogman : Dance of Values

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Elena Vogman
“Dance of Values: Sergei Eisenstein’s Capital Project”
[response by Devin A. Fore]
Tue March 3, 2020 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

Sergei Eisenstein’s planned film adaptation of Karl Marx’s Capital stands as one of the most enigmatic projects in the history of cinema. Though never realized, it has haunted the imagination of many filmmakers, historians, and philosophers to the present day. A recent look into Eisenstein’s archive revealed the full scope of his plans: between October 1927 and September 1928, he gradually transformed his working diaries into an editing board. This “visual instruction in the dialectical method,” as Eisenstein himself called his project, comprises over 500 pages of notes, drawings, press clippings, expression diagrams, plans for articles, negatives from October, theoretical reflections and extensive quotations. What can be seen and read is not a film but a series of variations on the themes of economy and capitalist exploitation.

Elena Vogman’s recent book Dance of Values. Sergei Eisenstein’s Capital Project explores the internal formal necessity underlying the director’s choices, arguing that Capital’s visual complexity as well as its epistemic efficacy reside precisely within the state of its material: the dance of heterogeneous themes and disparate fragments, a non-linear, provisory, and non-articulated flow. In this way Eisenstein’s montage sequences produce a kind of surplus value entirely their own: a semiotic excess, which stirs the materials and represented bodies into a dance analogous to Marx’s “dance” of “petrified conditions.” It is in this polymorphic and “diffuse” language – associated with the stream of consciousness of Joyce’s Ulysses – that Eisenstein saw the strongest critical and affective potential for the future cinema.

Elena Vogman is a literary scholar, theorist and independent curator. She has published two books: Sinnliches Denken. Eisensteins exzentrische Methode (Diaphanes 2018) and Dance of Values. Sergei Eisenstein’s Capital Project (Diaphanes 2019). She currently teaches at the Art Academy Weißensee in Berlin and is working on a research project on media and milieus of critical psychiatry at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar.  

Devin A. Fore is Professor of German in the German Department at Princeton University.

February 25 // Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project [Film-Screening + Discussion with director Matt Wolf]

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
(directed by Matt Wolf; 2019; 87 mins)

Film Screening + Discussion with director Matt Wolf
Tue February 25, 2020 @4.30pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Betts Auditorium

For over 30 years, Marion Stokes obsessively and privately recorded American television news twenty-four hours a day. A civil rights-era radical who became fabulously wealthy and reclusive later in life, her obsession started with the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979—at the dawn of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. It ended on December 14, 2012, as the Sandy Hook massacre played on television while Marion passed away. In between, Marion filled 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows and commercials that show us how television shaped the world of today and in the process tell us who we were.

A mystery in the form of a time capsule, Recorder delves into the strange life of a woman for whom home taping was a form of activism to protect the truth (the public didn’t know it, but the networks had been disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history) and though her visionary and maddening project nearly tore her family apart, her extraordinary legacy is as priceless as her story is remarkable.

Matt Wolf is an award-winning filmmaker in New York whose feature documentaries include Wild Combination, about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell and Teenage, about early youth culture and the birth of teenagers. His new film Spaceship Earth about the controversial Biosphere 2 experiment is premiering at Sundance 2020. Matt’s short films include I Remember, about the artist and poet Joe Brainard, Time Magazine’s The Face of AIDS about a controversial Benetton advertisement, and Bayard & Me, about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. He is also the director of HBO’s It’s Me, Hilary and is the co-curator of film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.

February 14 // Vanessa R. Schwartz : Jet Age Aesthetics

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Vanessa R. Schwartz
“Jet Age Aesthetics: The Glamour of Media in Motion”
[response by Anne McCauley]
Tue February 18, 2020 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

Vanessa R. Schwartz engagingly presents the jet plane’s power to define a new age at a critical moment in the mid-20th century, arguing that the craft’s speed and smooth ride allowed people to imagine themselves living in the future. Exploring realms as diverse as airport architecture, theme park design, film, and photography, Schwartz argues that the jet created an aesthetic that circulated on the ground below.

Visual and media culture, including Eero Saarinen’s airports, David Bailey’s photographs of the jet set, and Ernst Haas’s experiments in color photojournalism glamorized the imagery of motion. Drawing on unprecedented access to the archives of The Walt Disney Studios, Schwartz also examines the period’s most successful example of fluid motion meeting media culture: Disneyland. The park’s dedication to “people-moving” defined Walt Disney’s vision, shaping the very identity of the place. The jet age aesthetic laid the groundwork for our contemporary media culture, in which motion is so fluid that we can surf the internet while going nowhere at all.

Vanessa R. Schwartz is Professor of Art History, History and Film at the University of Southern California, where she also directs the Visual Studies Research Institute and the Graduate Certificate program. 

Anne McCauley is David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University.

February 4 // “MoMA REHANG” A Roundtable

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

A Roundtable with Elizabeth Diller, Leah Dickerman, Martino Stierli, Hal Foster, Beatriz Colomina, and Sylvia Lavin
Tue February 4, 2020 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Betts Auditorium

MoMA recently renovated itself—editing, expanding, transforming, rehanging. M+M has invited some of the architects and curators driving the project to join an interdisciplinary forum as the status of museums, collections, architecture, media, public, and ideologies of presenting art are being rethought—again.

Elizabeth Diller 
is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and Professor of Architectural Design at Princeton University. Founded in 1981, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is a design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture, urban design, installation art, multi-media performance, digital media, and print. With a focus on cultural and civic projects, DS+R’s work addresses the changing role of institutions and the future of cities.  The studio is based in New York and is comprised of over 100 architects, designers, artists and researchers, led by four partners—Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro, and Benjamin Gilmartin.

Leah Dickerman
is Director of Editorial and Content Strategy at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Serving most recently as the Museum’s first Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture, a post endowed in 2015, Dickerman previously held the positions of Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA (2008-2015), Acting Head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Art (NGA), Washington, D.C. (2007), and Associate Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art at the NGA (2001-2007). Over the course of her career, Dickerman has organized or co-organized a series of exhibitions including One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works (2015)Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925(2012-2013), Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art (2011-2012), Bauhaus: Workshops for Modernity (2009-2010), Dada (2005-2006), and Aleksandr Rodchenko (1998).

Martino Stierli
is The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern art (MoMA), a role he assumed in March 2015. He oversees the wide-ranging program of special exhibitions, installations, and acquisitions of the Department of Architecture and Design. As the Swiss National Science Foundation Professor at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Art History, Stierli focused his research on architecture and media. His project The Architecture of Hedonism: Three Villas in the Island of Capri was included in the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice. He has organized and co-curated exhibitions on a variety of topics, including the international traveling exhibition Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (2008–14).

Sylvia Lavin is Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University.

Hal Foster is Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.

Beatriz Colomina is Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture at Princeton University and Co-Director of the M+M Program in Media and Modernity.

M+M Spring 2020 teaser

M+M Program in Media and Modernity wishes you all an exciting and intellectually stimulating New Year 2020. While we finalize the programming for Spring 2020, here is an early teaser of what is to come…

FEB 4 |”MoMA REHANG” a roundtable with Beatriz Colomina, Leah Dickerman, Liz Diller, Hal Foster, Sylvia Lavin, Martino Stierli
FEB 18 |Vanessa R. Schwartz
MAR 3 |Elena Vogman
MAR 10 |Martino Stierli
MAR 24 |Juliane Vogel

Tuesdays @5pm
Princeton University — School of Architecture

December 3 // Doctoral Colloquium : Session II

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Doctoral Colloquium Fall 2019 : Session II
Sebastian P. Klinger
Martín Cobas
Tue December 3, 2019 @6pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

Sebastian P. Klinger (Ph.D. Candidate, German)
“Better living through Chemistry: Modern Culture and the ‘Holy Hypnotic’ in Peter Altenberg”

With the invention of the EEG (electroencephalograph) in 1929, a chapter in sleep’s cultural significance came to an end. It had begun only 25 years earlier when the companies Bayer and Merck introduced the new sleeping pill Veronal. During these 25 years, sleep – typically experienced as an absence of experience – turned into a hot topic, as its nature remained elusive and it could only be described from the perspective of different disciplines simultaneously, while it assumed unprecedented social and economic importance. How did literature and science imagine, reflect and construct sleep between Veronal and the EEG? My interdisciplinary dissertation, entitled “Veronal Culture: Sleep Experiments in Literature, Science and Society, 1904-1929” explores this question with close readings in a rich corpus that includes authors such as Kafka, Altenberg, Schnitzler, Rilke and Proust, scientists such as Freud, Constantin von Economo and W.R. Hess, as well as documents from the corporate archives of Bayer. I argue that before the EEG, any knowledge on sleep was inextricably tied to language. Yet still, to make sense of modern cultures of sleep, literature, and science had to experiment with the language of sleep persistently and to transgress standing linguistic structures, grammar and literary forms. Building on existing scholarship in science studies, Veronal Culture, therefore, provides not only a pioneering analysis of sleep in some major German authors and an account of sleep under the conditions of modernity, but it also offers the first book-length study that brings the experimental and the experiential dimension of sleep into a dialogue.

“Better living through Chemistry: Modern Culture and the ‘Holy Hypnotic’ in Peter Altenberg” attempts to approach this question by accessing it via the backdoor. It sheds light on the conditions for the nascent success of Veronal by way of reading Peter Altenberg, a cultural icon of Fin de Siècle Vienna who has been described as a “drug addict and a fanatic proponent of a healthy lifestyle at the same time” (Barker). Altenberg, a self-described avant-gardist, championed both sleep and sleeping pills in a radically affirmative way early on: “I would like to count as the preacher of holy sleep, like Jesus Christ counts as a preacher in general matters […] and like Liebknecht and Tolstoy for other things!” Not only did Altenberg’s identify the praise of sleep as the hallmark of the “real poet”, but he would also extend this assessment to include the praise of sleeping pills, as his texts became increasingly infatuated with questions of health and hygienic-dietetic techniques of self-care. In which way did health and sleeping pills go together for Altenberg? How does his style, a unique blend of prose poetry, hygienic ruminations and self-help literature, expose his time’s discourses and practices? Which aporias of modern self-care does Altenberg throw into relief? In the talk at the M+M Doctoral colloquium, I will argue that this writer renders a new social type visible – the modern customer of health products. This social type is obsessed with a healthy lifestyle, embraces pharmaceutical innovations of all kinds, and strives for self-improvement. For Altenberg, the use of sleeping pills opens up both a symbolic-phantasmagorical restoration of the productive body and quintessential drug experience. Thus, this talk not only explores new avenues in a major but understudied figure in German literature, but it also addresses larger questions on sleep and sleeping pills in modern cultures of sleep.

Martín Cobas (Ph.D. Candidate, Architecture)
“Cabinet/Zoohaus: Dead Things (and Zoological Life) in the Casa De Vidro ”

Although often referred to as a paradigm of “modern transparency,” the Casa de Vidro (Glass House) designed by Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) in 1951 in the outskirts of the city of São Paulo is in fact several houses at once: the glass house (the pavilion), the vernacular house (with its patios and rooms in enfilade), the primitive hut (a studiolo of sorts), atop of a tea façenda overlooking the Mata Atlántica (Atlantic Rainforest) and the city. Furthermore, these houses hold Bo Bardi and Pietro M. Bardi’s collections: a miscellany of decorative arts and wondrous objects, baroque sculpture, ethnographica, and a puzzling zoological menagerie, real and fantastic: a tortoise, an inventory of cockroaches, a polochon (or bigger-than-life double-butt pig sculpted in papier mâché), a mechanical cow, a parade of animals exiting a zoo… In Bo Bardi’s work, animals, creatures and architecture are enigmatically entangled. But consider the animal: Why so many animals? Why so many creatures cannibalizing architecture?

This paper, part of my dissertation “Liminal Creatures/Liminal Topographies: Rhetoric of Excess in the New World,” discusses the Casa de Vidro as a Wunderkammer or “cabinet of curiosities.” It dwells in the liminal space that separates architecture and display, and presents historical evidence and original archival material to support this counter-narrative. I hypothesize that Bo Bardi’s work derives from a highly rhetorical handling of all things collected (and collectible) and investigate how the forces of collecting delineate a liminal topography of “multiple others” — humans and non-humans, often articulated in creaturely or cannibal form. Yet it is not only their rhetorical function that interests here but also their capacity to work as ontological markers of difference, variation and proliferation. Intimations of this kind, ranging from geological and botanical to zoological inventions, are at the basis of Bo Bardi’s treatment of the barocca, the apuizeiro (an Amazonian tree) and the polochon. I argue that they eloquently display the unsettling antinomies and thresholds that Bo Bardi’s topical “modernity” had to negotiate, crucially, in the aftermath of the “discovery” of the Brazilian Northeast (and its visual allure), and predating art critic Mario Pedrosa’s cursory proclamation that Brazil was “condemned to be modern.” Bo Bardi sought to mobilize the collections and expose its “multiple others” (creatures included) to a critical cultural agenda — whether in editorial (the journal Habitat), museographic (the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, MASP), theoretical (the thesis Contribuição Propedêutica ao Ensino da Teoria da Arquitetura), social (the Sesc Pompeia), or theatrical form (the Teatro Oficina).

In so doing, this paper will trace and critically address the affective liaisons between drawings-objects-spaces — circumnavigating the practice of collecting — that facilitate the transitions between the collector’s introspection, the house as a machinery of knowledge production and space of translation, and the outside, i.e. between the collection and the city, between drawing and its architectural afterlife. It is in these transitions, I would contend, that Bo Bardi finally met an “ecology of others” and Brazil the creaturely modern.

November 5 // Fall Doctoral Colloquium : Session I

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Doctoral Colloquium Fall 2019 : Session I
Ivan L. Munuera
Ying Sze Pek
Tue November 5, 2019 @6pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107


Ivan L. Munuera (Ph.D. Candidate, Architecture)
“Grounded Bodies, Flying Plasma: The Origins of the Hemogeography”

The HIV/AIDS techno-spatial urbanism did not start in New York in 1981—when the syndrome was first clinically observed—or in 1983—when the HIV retrovirus was discovered—but in 1971, with Hemo-Caribbean, a multi-faceted company with two vectors: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Miami, Florida. Hemo-Caribbean was a large plasmapheresis center that operated between 1971 and 1973, exporting and selling plasma from their Haitian units to a series of transnational health facilities: laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals in the United States, Germany, and Sweden. No controls were practiced among donors, no scanning for diseases, and no collecting data about the plasma itself or the sale of it. Nor did the international organizations responsible for the control of plasma commerce. This was possible because a form of transnational piracy was enacted, one that had its roots in the colonial map. As a result, from the early 1970s, Haitians were seen as an origin of disease according to US medical organizations. It was in this context that at the end of 1982, doctor Bruce Chabner, of the US National Cancer Institute, announced that AIDS had probably originated in Haiti through voodoo practices on the island and brought by the homosexual community to the United States.

This lecture explores how Hemo-Caribbean created a hemogeography wherein medical technologies performed a definition of bodies and nations through different architectures: laboratories, hospitals, maritime exportations, airlines. Haitians were reduced to blood, reiterating the urban constitution of a microbiological operation in which plasma could fly freely among different countries, but its human hosts were banned from this kind of mobility. This was a fluid sociopolitical urbanism in which legislations and the constitution of borders were embodied in Haitians’ plasma, confronting the United States legislations and ideologies on frontiers and identities.


Ying Sze Pek (Ph.D. Candidate, Art & Archaeology)
“Duration, Discursivity, and Experience: Moving Image Works at the Global Art Exhibition”

The transformation of the spaces of art exhibition into the spaces of cinema took on a specific inflection with a prominent instantiation of the global art exhibition Documenta. Critics perceived Documenta 11 (2002), that privileged works in the mediums of film, video, and film and video installation, as a sensory and informational overload due to the lengthy combined duration of such artworks on display. Still, the supplanting of the exhibitionary complex of the “white cube” by the “black box” in the instance of Documenta 11 was seen as contributing to the spectator’s experience of social and political realities, what came to be known by the art critical shorthand “the documentary turn.” My paper looks closely to the work and writings of Hito Steyerl, whose practice, I show, was deeply influenced by the debates around Documenta 11. I argue that Steyerl’s videos and video installations from the 2000s explored the relays between engaged art, the cinematic, and the biennial form that the 2002 exhibition exemplified. Developed almost exclusively by commission for contemporary art biennials, her moving image works reflect the exhibitionary condition of the global contemporary art biennial as well as the exhibition’s conditions of production.

October 22 // John R. Blakinger : Undreaming the Bauhaus

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

John R. Blakinger : Undreaming the Bauhaus
[response by Irene V. Small]
Tue October 22, 2019 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

What happened to the Bauhaus dream during the Cold War?  This talk considers the legacy of Bauhaus modernism through the work of artist, designer, and visual theorist Gyorgy Kepes (1906-2001), who taught at MIT from 1945 until 1974.  Kepes was a relentless advocate of interdisciplinary exchange, or what he called “interthinking” and “interseeing.”  He collaborated with a surprising constellation of colleagues, including scientific experts involved in war research with applications in Vietnam.  Drawing from his new monograph on Kepes, John Blakinger explores the progressive potential of Kepes’s projects but also Kepes’s reactionary entanglement in the military-industrial-aesthetic complex.  In attempting to “undream” the Bauhaus into existence once more, Kepes faced profound resistance.  He inspired a dramatic backlash.  This talk demonstrates the continued relevance of Kepes’s interdisciplinary experiments, and the backlash against them, in a contemporary age again dominated by science and technology.


John R. Blakinger is Departmental Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Oxford, where he was the 2018-2019 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art.  He is the author of Gyorgy Kepes: Undreaming the Bauhaus (The MIT Press, 2019).  His other writing has appeared in Tate Papers, Design Issues, CAA Reviews, and in edited volumes; a book on camouflage was published in French translation in 2015.  He is now working on a new project examining recent political controversies in the arts.

Irene V. Small is an associate professor in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University.

October 8 // Craig Buckley : Graphic Assembly

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Craig Buckley : Graphic Assembly
[response by Brigid Doherty]
Tue October 8, 2019 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

Graphic Assembly (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) unearths the role played by montage and collage in the development of architectural culture over the past century, revealing their unexamined yet crucial significance. Craig Buckley brings together experimental architectural practices based in London, Paris, Vienna, and Florence, showing how breakthroughs in optical media and printing technologies enabled avant-garde architects to reimagine their field.

Graphic Assembly considers a range of architects and movements from the 1950s through the early ’70s, including Theo Crosby, Hans Hollein, and John McHale; the magazine Clip-Kit; and the groups Archigram, Superstudio, and Utopie. It gives a thorough account of how montage concepts informed the design of buildings, prototypes, models, exhibitions, and multimedia environments, accompanied by Buckley’s insightful interpretations of the iconic images, exhibitions, and buildings of the 1960s that mark how the decade is remembered.


Craig Buckley is an assistant professor of modern and contemporary architecture in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University. His research interests include the intersections of modern architecture with avant-garde movements, the entanglement of architecture with the technics, poetics, and politics of media, and the historiography of modern architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is the editor of numerous collections and the author of Graphic Assembly: Montage, Media and Experimental Architecture in the 1960s, (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). His essays and criticism have appeared in a number of magazines and journals, including Grey Room, Log, October, and Texte zur Kunst, among others. His most recent book, Screen Genealogies: From Optical Device to Environmental Medium (with Francesco Casetti and Rüdiger Campe) will be published by University of Amsterdam Press this fall.


Brigid Doherty is an associate professor in the Departments of German and Art & Archaeology at Princeton University.

October 1 // Zvi Efrat : The Israel Project

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents
co-sponsored by the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities

Zvi Efrat : The Israel Project
[response by Nasser Abourahme]
Tue October 1, 2019 @5pm
Princeton University – School of Architecture – Room N107

Contrary to popular belief, the architecture of the State of Israel was not born haphazardly out of emergency or speculation. The Israeli built environment is the deliberate response to a unique objective—how to design and build an instantaneous “model state”. To this end, the terrain itself was re-shaped and re-purposed and dozens of new towns and hundreds of new rural settlements were constructed. Fashionable post-war architectural trends like Brutalism and Structuralism were appropriated as signifiers of national vigour. Exhibitions, publications and films mediated the notion of a singular modernist project, unprecedented in its hyper-production of spatial and structural experiments.


Prof. Zvi Efrat, Architect and Architectural Historian, is partner at Efrat-Kowalsky Architects (EKA) and was Head of the Department of Architecture at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem (2002-2010). He has taught and lectured worldwide, published extensively and curated numerous exhibitions, among them: Borderline Disorder (The Israeli Pavilion at the 8thArchitectural Biennale, Venice, 2002); The Object of Zionism, Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel, 2011); and Communal by Commune (HKW, Berlin, 2015).

His book, The Israeli Project: Building and Architecture 1948-1973, was published in Hebrew in 2004 by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. His book The Object of Zionism, The Architecture of Israel was published by Spector Books, Leipzig, in 2018.His film The Most Beautiful Campus in Africa was shown at the Bauhaus Imaginista exhibition at HKW Berlin, 2019.

The Office of Efrat-Kowalsky Architects (EKA) specializes in the design of museums and in re-programming existing structures. Among the office recent projects: Performing Arts Campus in Jerusalem: The Israel Museum in Jerusalem (renewal and expansion); City Museum of Tel Aviv (preservation and new additions): The Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art: the Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Nasser Abourahme is a Faculty Fellow at NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, where he works between urban geography, colonial studies, and political theory.  He has a PhD from Columbia University, and is the Special Features Editor at the urban studies journal, CITY.   His current work moves across the social sciences and the humanities to look at issues of borders and encampment as they come up against questions of aesthetics and textuality.